Or How to Not Make It in New York in 2007
Buy this beaded jacket from an op shop in the West Village for $20. The leg o’ mutton sleeves make you think of Miles Franklin and brilliant careers. It’s obviously too small and doesn’t really fit you but you end up falling in love with it anyway.
Wear the jacket almost every day and never bother to mend the rips and tears that show every time you lift your arms.
Try to find work in your field but it’s impossible, so get a job walking dogs. One of your favourites is a gigantic, gangly Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, and you are overcome with a giddy sense of achievement when you finally train him to sit and stay.
Get another job, at a restaurant frequented by famous people. Work ten hours a day, six days a week, and move into a new apartment with a model from Mali called Mila.
Train yourself not to gush when you send orders to the kitchen: Maggie Gyllenhaal’s smoked chicken sandwich, Elijah Wood’s granola. Make snap judgements about well-known celebrities according to how they treat you as a waitress. Feel almost disappointed to discover that famous people are generally just polite or taciturn, except for Josh Hartnett who is polite and taciturn and a bad tipper.
Hand Heath Ledger his coffee; he always orders it to go.
One day walk past an apartment where a crowd bubonic with cameras has gathered to watch them bring out the dead. The collective contagious grief at the sight of a body under a white sheet, the rolling of wheels. You ask someone who it is and when they murmur the name of your most polite customer you’re infected by the same weirdly personal, impersonal sadness that now plagues the entire neighbourhood. You wish you could order it to go.
That night riding home on the subway you sway, gripping two paper cups of Sancerre stolen from work. You manage large gulps between stops but it’s hard to balance. You lift your arms to grab on to the straps and see your reflection in the dark windows. Your tears show. You don’t know how much longer you can hold on for.
Your order is to go.
You find yourself back in Brisbane. It’s obviously too small and doesn’t really fit you but you end up falling in love with it anyway, and when you finally train yourself to sit and stay you are overcome with a giddy sense of achievement.